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Jeb Patton: Preludes

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Jeb Patton: Preludes
A jazz quintet performing eight classically-inspired Preludes and Duke Ellington's wistful "Prelude to a Kiss"? How could that possibly work? In the capable hands of pianist Jeb Patton (who wrote the Preludes) and his quintet, quite well, actually. Patton, who grew up in a household where listening to classical music was the norm, never forgot those early years even as he moved toward jazz and found his calling there. When Covid struck in 2020, Patton had time to revisit his classical roots and compose music designed to bridge the gap between "contemporary" and "traditional"—to put it another way, between jazz and classical.

Although Patton's Preludes are clearly jazz-aligned, a touch or more of their classical substrata can be heard on every one of them, thanks in part to Patton's exquisite solos and to his determination to span musical boundaries via his inclusive compositions and arrangements. Even so, they swing as only jazz themes can, as bassist David Wong and drummer Quincy Davis link with Patton to lend the session a large share of its rhythmic vitality. That is not to imply that the quintet's front-liners—trumpeter Mike Rodriguez and multi-reed specialist John Ellis—do not do their part to further the swing quotient, as they do precisely that whenever the need arises.

As every number on the album is a Prelude of sorts, the best that can be done to identify them is to name their key signatures, which are (in order) C Major, F# Major, A Minor, G Minor, B Minor, E Minor, E Major, D Major and of course "Prelude to a Kiss." There are two flat-out burners (G Minor, E Minor), on each of which Ellis plays splendid tenor sax. He moves easily to soprano on the sultry A Minor, to flute on the courtly E Major, and to bass clarinet on the entrancing D Major. Rodriguez' flugelhorn is showcased on the beguiling B Minor, while Patton leads a trio on F# Major and "Prelude to a Kiss." Wong solos on F# Major, E Major and "Prelude to a Kiss."

Jazz or classical, Patton shows throughout that he is thoroughly comfortable in either genre, garnishing his solos with tasteful allusions, and even slipping in a brief reference to the traditional jig "The Irish Washerwoman." As it turns out, his plan to blend jazz and classical elements—which has been done before—is astute and impressive, underscored by one basic truism: good music is good music, no matter its premise.

Track Listing

Prelude in C Major; Prelude in F# Major; Prelude in A Minor; Prelude in G Minor; Prelude in B Minor; Prelude in E Minor; Prelude in E Major; Prelude in D Major; Prelude to a Kiss.

Personnel

John Ellis
saxophone, tenor

Album information

Title: Preludes | Year Released: 2023 | Record Label: Cellar Records


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